Friday, April 04, 2008

Writing About Video Games

Google Image Search: "Video Games"

I used to write about video games pretty frequently in this blog. I haven't for the past year or so - since I decided to begin anew for 2008 and drudge up at least one post a week, the only topics that have come to mind have been music-related, with maybe a few regarding comedy or movies or whathaveyou.

Video games are tough to write about. The most obvious reason why is that, unlike music, lots of people don't give a shit about video games. Now, I'm not gonna get all NERD RAGE VIDEO GAMES ARE HIGH ART on people, because the truth is video games do NOT have the universal appeal music has. Some people have a tolerance for them, and some don't. That's fair. So I feel like, if I get real detailed and pontificate on every reason I love a certain game, I'm gonna feel like I'm just... blathering to myself. Not that I'm not doing that already, but hey.

Secondly - and this is a big one - video games take a while to play. I mean, this isn't just limited to long, epic Final Fantasy levelupathons - if you wanna review a game, you've gotta sit down with it, play it for a while, get a feel for it. Hell, some games require you to unlock every little pointless Dawn Shard or whatever before you can see everything you wanna see. Compare this to, say, a White Stripes album - sit down, listen for 40 minutes, maybe listen to it again in case you missed some cool guitar lick, bam. Review written, done. Try this with a video game, and you'll look like a jackass who doesn't know what he's talking about.

Not only that, but a lot of games I want to write about I just don't have on me. My Super Nintendo / N64 games are in storage, my Playstation games are all 70-hour RPGs, and I have only a few Game Boy games lying around that aren't Pokemon Blue. Unlike music or movies, video games are much more flash-in-the-pan; sure, you can go down to your local Barnes 'n Noble any day of the week and buy Vertigo on DVD, nice and remastered and whathaveyou. But does GameStop carry Excitebike? Fuck no, check out eBay. Hell, you can't even find old GBA games from maybe 3 years ago - they're off the shelves, out with the old and in with the new. There's no grand Video Game Preservation Society out there - just a bunch of diehard collectors. Once in a while, you'll get Super Mario Bros. ported to DS or something, but that's the extent of it.

So what I'm saying is, it's not easy for me to find games I've played, especially if I've borrowed them from friends. I spent a goddamned year playing through every Zelda game ever made - 'cause I love Zelda - and I had these Grand Poobah plans of writing some big essay on each and every one. But it's been a year, and I don't have those Zelda games anymore 'cause they're fucking old games that belong to other people. My only resort is ROM files, and those things are fidgety and ugly. I remember a lot about those Zelda games, sure, but I can't play them anymore, which makes writing about them akin to writing about a dream I had five years ago - blurry, distanced, and awkward. But hey, I haven't listened to "Fables of the Reconstruction" in a while, how will I review - oh, there it is in iTunes, I can just put it on again! Maybe once more!! Review written, problem fucking solved.

(I'll probably get around to writing about those Zelda reviews anyway... I wasted too much time on them, I'll be damned if I don't write something.)

Oh, and thirdly, I haven't been playing video games much recently. My last big purchase was Super Mario Galaxy, which was a slice of pure magic to be sure, but I haven't touched it since my 120th star. I picked up Final Fantasy XII on a whim, and it's got some flare and pizzaz, but you know, those games take so much work to get around without dying every five minutes. Right now I'm just waiting to waste my next paycheck on Brawl and immerse myself in shameless nostalgia for hours on end, but you know, it's a crass experience. Fun, but crass. No Wind Waker-esque revelations or anything. See, I'm just not in the mode to write about video games because I haven't been living them. I haven't stopped enjoying them, but I haven't been swallowing them whole like I was, say, a year ago - when I wasn't bothering to write about them.

But I'll be damned, I want to write about video games. I like them. They're my pocket-pleasure; they give me real release that I don't get from anything else and that not many people care about except myself. They're my niche, whether I like it or not, and if I deny myself the simple pleasure of writing about them then I am only doing myself a disservice. It's as simple as that.

If you start to see some stuff in this blog about video games, and you don't like video games, consider this an apology in advance.


Adam Spektor said...

Dude, you compared "Vertigo" to Excitebike.


Luke said...

We were talking about serfdom in my Czech history class the other day, the word for this type of work being "robota", which is where we get robot from (I knew that because of Asimov). Then my professor mentioned the word for the workers themselves, which is robotník.

So I thought of you and Mega Man.

Sean Rose said...

aaaaaaaaahahahahhaa that's great

although Robotnik is Sonic the Hedgehog's nemesis, not Megaman's - that's Dr. Wily you fool


Luke said...

Oh, sorry about that, then. You can tell I never played any of them, and instead spent my nerd quota on old sci-fi (like Asimov).